Mercedes Benz Electric e-Truck |
The concept of goods distribution and return loads is characterised by heavy-duty trucks which are loud, inefficient, environmentally taxing and a little archaic. Fortunately, Mercedes have plans to tackle these issues in the form of the Mercedes-Benz Urban e-Truck series of vehicles which will specialise in short-range delivery.
After its unveiling as a prototype last year, and after the high praise it received, the project has moved at a rapid pace indicative of the enthusiasm over at Mercedes for electric propulsion and clean energy. Infact, the e-Truck is already undergoing trials and is in the hands of some lucky motorists. As soon as the kinks are all ironed out, head of the truck division, Stefan Buchner, has stated that a 2020 commercial production date is on the cards.
The e-Truck Specifications at a Glance
The main asset of the 26-tonne truck is that it runs off an incredibly cost effective and massive 212 kWh battery pack which has an effective range of up to 125 miles. In terms of payload, the e-Truck will be able to carry 12.8 tonnes, and it will be mainly utilised in heavily populated urban areas to provide an environmentally friendly alternative to current petrol or diesel vehicles.
The low costs of the battery have made the project increasingly viable. The company expects the cost of batteries to decrease further in the future, continuing a trend that saw prices fall from 500 Euros per kWh in 1997, to 200 Euros per kWh today.
12-month Customer Trial
In order to assess the marketability of the e-Trucks, they have been released to a number of select companies for trials. Sectors trialling the vehicles range from foodstuffs to logistics and waste management. Currently, the number of e-Trucks out for tests are small, and the trials are primarily taking place in Germany. They will last for a period of 12 months as Mercedes collates valuable information in terms of performance leading to possible areas of improvement.
Vision For The Future of The e-Truck
While the e-Truck is on the short-range spectrum of return loads, it has the opportunity become hugely popular. Demand for e-Trucks is growing, as qualities such as low noise, zero emissions, and clean air have become critical issues in city planning and regulations. Even now, discussions are being held on banning internal combustion engines in the city centres of London and Paris, a trend which is likely to follow suit in other heavily urbanised areas.
We can expect a high concentration of these kinds of trucks to be used in urban and city environments as technology develops, particularly in relation to charging times. Stefan Buchner is well aware of the technological hurdles and has stated that 2017 will be the year in which the e-Trucks reach “market maturity”.
At the moment, long haul delivery and return loads aren’t really compatible with electrical propulsion due to the limitations of battery life. But, this is a first and important step in the normalisation of e-Trucks, and it paints a picture for cleaner highways as wells as cities.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching loads and return loads with available drivers. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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